CSI Stonehenge

I'm looking for the opinions of my esteemed sodales on a question of whether the Code of Hermes applies to a situation or if it's a matter for the King's Court.

A magus Bonisagus Trianomae (let's call him "Arthur") is found dead in his bedchamber, an empty glass of wine on his nightstand. His wife's chambermaid ("Beatrice") admits to sharing his bed the night he died, but swears that he was very much alive when she left.

Arthur's wife ("Claudia") is also a maga Bonisagus and is, in fact, his filia. However, she was in Normandy at the time of the death.

Arthur was 44 at the time of his death, and had been under the influence of a Longevity Ritual for about seven years.

Is his death something that would be investigated, or would it be chalked up to "natural causes"? And if it would be investigated, by whom? And if foul play is "provable," would it then fall under the Hermetic Code? Or would it be mundane justice? Or would the Order mete out justice on whomever and just hope they can convince the judges to rubber-stamp their actions?

Enlighten me.

If Arthur was in good health, and his death is unexplained, presumably his sodales would press for an investigation. But Quesitor investigations do not usually happen without some kind of pressure. If no one cares enough about Arthur's death to demand a Quaesitor go snooping around (or do it themselves), the case might very well go ignored. Quaesitors have a lot of things to do and only the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

If a Quaesitor is asked to investigate, the Order tends to be very protective of its own rights. (See, for example, the Order's attitude towards vis and apprentices) While a Quaesitor is probably going to try to avoid mundane authorities whenever possible, if a quiet investigation does reveal some foul play, Quaesitors are unlikely to allow mundane justice to be the final word. Since lords often know something about the Order (see Lords of Men), a Quaesitor might even approach the mundane lord and explain this is Hermetic business. Depending on the stature of Arthur in mundane society, the mundane lord might not care. This presumes a magical cause of death. If Arthur was killed by mundane forces for mundane purposes, and a Quaesitor discovers the Order is not involved, the Code doesn't apply and the whole business could be turned over to mundane authorities with the expectation that SOMETHING will be done, since magi are respected and ignoring their murder is insulting.

If there's no Quaesitor investigation, then any investigation of Arthur's death seems reliant on mundane social pressure. People fall dead from all kinds of reasons. There's no special reason to expect foul play. Was Arthur important? Did he have wealth and lands which are in dispute? If there are no mundane assets to fight over, it's hard to imagine the local lord caring much, barring a personal connection to Arthur or one of the other principles. Not unlike Hermetic law, you kind of have to ask, "Who cares about his death?" If no one cares, then the business is probably over.

This is one of the reasons magi have sodales, after all. So someone gives a damn when they die. A magus living alone has no one to insist on Justice when rivals do him wrong.

If CSI Stonehenge is in fact set in England, then his unexpected death (if known of by the mundane population) should be investigated by the coroner, so that he can assess whether anybody is to blame, so that they can be fined.

If local magi care, then they may well investigate too. Depends on the wider context of your saga. "Claudia" would normally be expected to investigate (either personally, or not) --- but she need not be too enthusiastic if she is in fact responsible.

Death of a person is something that mundane justice would consider to be under its own jurisdiction, of course. Even an "accident" will carry a fine if a person is deemed responsible for that accident.

If the culprit is clerical, then jurisdiction transfers to the canon court. Depending on how magi interact with mundane justice (in your saga), then perhaps jurisdiction similarly transfers to the Tribunal. But probably not.

There is nothing stopping the local magi/Tribunal taking justice into their own hands. If it is discovered that they have done this, and whatever they have done prevents the coroner from undertaking his own investigation/fine, then they should need to convince the coroner that they were a properly constituted court that meted out justice to the right culprit. If the culprit is something clearly supernatural (i.e. not a person and not the property of a person), then the coroner would probably be happy. Otherwise, as long as the coroner still collected the appropriate fines, then it might not cause a big problem, but the person explaining all this will need to be either unGifted, or have the Gentle Gift (and / or copious Rego Mentem).

My take on Quaesitors is that they are driven by both the Code and an innate love of mysteries. Even if there was no tribunal pressure for an investigation, curiosity or dedication to justice would bring some Guernicus around to check into the circumstances. There might be others with less savory reasons to make inquiries. Dexter Morganis, the bloodmage of House Tytalus, always seems to turn up after unsolved deaths and ask questions.

If you take Richard's wonderful suggestion of bringing in the coroner, please check out the "Crowner John Mysteries," a set of novels by Bernard Knight. The stories are set in the 1190's so the setting and culture adapt very well to a hermetic saga.

Exercising my own "little grey cells" upon Arthur's death a few possibilities jump to mind. Arthur is young to have already rounded his arts and completed training an apprentice. Perhaps his wife/filia was snatched from another magus when she was nearly finished with her own apprenticeship and her beauty as well as brilliance were in bloom. The original parens is a prime suspect. Also, given his age, it is likely that Arthur's own parens is alive and kicking. Hermetic inheritance passes upward, so if Arthur had made a recent discovery or secured some valuable magical resource, another beneficiary of the death comes into view. Did the grieving widow know of Arthur's dalliance? A longevity potion is better than a vasectomy for a philanderer. The widow could have discovered his infidelity via InMe or InCo on the chambermaid without running the risk of scrying upon her husband. hmmm.... were I a magus in 1220 without HBO to watch, the temptation to visit the country manor and ferret out suspects would be irresistible.

He has a filia at age 44? I smell something fishy here... send in the Quaesitores! :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe they meant hermetic life of 44, so he was 64 in mundane terms. 44-15=29. It can be done even with it being the real mundane age of the magus, even if it is borderline in that case. She might have been an apprentice he snatched from a harsh parens because he was young and somewhat stupid (youngsters are). Who knows. He certainly can have an apprentice.

In England it would fall under the authority of the crown to investigate this. They might allow the Order to conduct their business, but that is a concession on the part of the Crown officials, not a right of the OoH at all. The Order is certainly not above the crown in England. This is one of the weird things about the OoH, that in 400 years they have not been officially recognized as being independent from the crown and church by the mundanes. Not that a covenant cannot defy a sheriff, but that makes them revels. I expect 99.9% of the OoH to be officially in a state of rebellion most of the time. Or be paying lots of silver to the crown for appropriating some Crown rights (like the death penalty) for their own use.

I expect that the solades will hide it from mundane authorities, and try to investigate on their own before calling the Quaesitors. If they decide that a mundane, covenfolk or Hedgie gets fingered by the investigation they are likely just to kill the person. No need to involve the mundane authorities. If they discover a magi is responsible they have several options: Call the Quaesitors immediately, Wizard's War, or waiting until Tribunal until its time to make the case there.

Finally, if they can't figure it out on their own they will probably call the Quaesitors. Quaesitors should have access to intellego corpus spells that determine the cause of death at the very least.

Anyway a Boni magi can take an apprentice right out of apprenticehood with their snatching abilities.

I smell some boni-snatching.